ANKARA (Combined Sources)–In a widely applauded speech delivered to Turkey’s Parliament on Thursday, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev called for increased Turkish intervention in the region, describing a “Turkish-Azerbaijani union” as the solution to “problems” in the Caucasus–the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in particular.
"The greatest problem to peace and security in the region, is the occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh by Armenia," Aliyev was quoted as saying by Anatolian Agency.
Peace in the Caucasus will be established with Turkey’s initiative and the "good will of regional countries," Aliyev told a parliament full of applauding deputies. “A Turkish-Azerbaijani union is an important factor in the region”
"What is taking place in the Caucasus is of interest to all of us. Turkey conducts very active policy in regard to the problems in the Caucasus. Turkey will intervene more seriously to the regional problems in the future. Such intervention will have positive results. We applaud such initiatives," Aliyev said.
Aliyev said his country is hopeful that all ‘Azerbaijani territory’ would unite and be free of any ‘occupation’.
Describing his country’s relations with Turkey as being founded on “historic bonds” of “friendship and brotherhood”, Aliyev said relations and political dialogue between the two countries will continue to take place at the highest level possible.
Azerbaijan’s newly elected president arrived in the Turkish capital Wednesday only days after meeting in Moscow with Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Following the talks, the three presidents signed a declaration pledging to step up efforts at finding a political solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Meeting with Turkish President Abdullah Gul on Wednesday, Aliyev thanked Turkey for its efforts in the Caucasus, which Ankara wants to crown with a regional cooperation pact, involving also Georgia and Russia. He also voiced hope that the talks with Armenia would result in a settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict "through gradual steps."
In a joint press conference after their talks on Wednesday Gul proclaimed that a new era for the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has begun.
“We have courageously started dealing with problems of the Caucasus. Caucasian leaders are displaying the will for resolving these problems on various platforms,” Gul said, while also referring to Turkey’s proposal for a regional platform to discuss and resolve conflicts in the troubled Caucasus after a brief war between Russia and Georgia.
With the planned Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform, Ankara ostensibly aims to bring Turkey, Armenia, Russia, Azerbaijan and Georgia together around the same table. Analysts close to the region, however, see the platform as an attempt by Turkey to drastically increase its influence in the region and sideline the OSCE Minsk Group in the Karabakh negotiations process.
“Caucasus countries, especially Azerbaijan, are lending support to this [proposal]. We believe that an environment to be created with dialogue and mutual understanding will lead to the resolution of problems in the Caucasus. I can state that a new era concerning the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has begun,” Gul said.
Aliyev said he backed Turkey’s proposal for the regional platform while underlining that he applauded Turkey’s efforts to bring peace and stability to the region.
According to diplomatic sources in Turkey, Aliyev Wednesday signaled his support for a proposal made by Gul earlier this week to host a second round of trilateral talks with the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Gul had already voiced support for the Moscow talks and expressed hope that it will be followed by other steps, while a separate Turkish Foreign Ministry, separately, welcomed the declaration and said that a network of relations based on cooperation and mutual trust within the framework of Turkey’s proposal for a regional platform could build confidence between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The statement also said Turkey, a member of OSCE Minsk Group, will continue to work with Armenia and Azerbaijan for resolution to the Karabakh conflict, which “poses a grave threat to security and stability of the region.”
According to sources, the Turkish side will convey its proposal for a trilateral summit to the Armenian side. The exact date and venue of the meeting will be decided later; however, ‘Itanbul has been mentioned as the probable venue.
"The summit may take place in a few months," a Turkish official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Today’s Zaman.
Turkey’s proposal to host a new summit comes after months of intense diplomatic activity aimed at bolstering the prospects of establishing a joint commission with Armenia to examine the history behind the Armenian genocide. The initiative, largely a public relations ploy, is aimed at convincing Washington that its recognition of the Genocide will torpedo ‘budding’ relations between Turkey and Armenia.
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov told Today’s Zaman that the decision concerning the meeting’s venue and date was up to Turkey, adding that agenda of the trilateral summit didn’t necessarily have to be limited to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.